The absurdity of life without god


For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

[..] Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him? [Eccl 3:19-20, 22]

It’s not always that I start my posts by quoting bible verses unless am writing about the bybill. I hope you can already guess where this is going, but if you can’t, it will become clear in a very short while. In his article, you have ruined my life, professor Craig, Adam is writing a letter to WLC praising the apologists for presenting atheists with unassailable questions.

He tells us

Before I go any further, let me say that you are and always have been my favorite living philosopher. I have seen every debate you have ever recorded and put up on the internet. I watch all your lectures and talks (Closer to Truth, youtube, etc.) I think you are the epitome of what a philosopher should be.

and I am immediately flummoxed. I know people’s choices are at best irrational. I can’t tell you why I prefer vanilla ice cream to strawberry. I will not hold a man to his preferences but if Craig is your best philosopher, it is time you take a brief pause and examine if your brain is still with you.

In the absurdity of life without god, Craig has set himself a task; Why on atheism life has no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose, and why this view is unlivable. It is my intention to show that Craig’s argument are fallacious and based on unsound reasoning. Before I go ahead, I will let it be known that I am not a philosopher, and if am not as eloquent as Craig, you can only blame my teacher of grammar.

The verse 22 above tells us that man should rejoice in his works, for that is his portion. No truer a verse has ever been written by man. I think if there was a time god could have told men about the netherworld, this was the occasion. If the author was this book was also inspired by god, then either at this point god had not decided on an afterlife or he simply forgot to mention it.

Craig writes that if god does not exist then man’s life is absurd. He continues to write

If God does not exist, then both man and the universe are inevitably doomed to death.

which is true whether there is a god or not. The scriptures talk of end times of the earth[universe] and all that is in it. There is death everywhere in scripture. It isn’t true to only associate death with godlessness. The most important question I think isn’t asked by Tillich but by Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus.  The question to me is what to do in an absurd world. Is suicide justified in an absurd world? Camus tells us the body has a head start. You get around to living before you start thinking. Were it the other way, there would be more deaths from suicide than there are.

Craig writes

There is no God, and there is no immortality. And what is the consequence of this? It means that life itself is absurd. It means that the life we have is without ultimate significance, value, or purpose.

Man creates god, in his image, then imagines god to live forever and while at it imagines he will live forever with the god he has created in an imaginary world he created at the same time. Craig or no other apologist has told us what god is, why god is and whether it is inconsistent for god to exist and there be no immortality. It is my considered opinion that those who don’t understand what being alive is are the ones who keep yapping there is no value or ultimate significance. Besides are things only valuable when they have ultimate utility? Nobody starts eating a doughnut thinking this thing will end. You know that while it last you will savour the taste and that is it.

Craig asks

Does it really matter whether he ever existed at all? His life may be important relative to certain other events, but what is the ultimate significance of any of those events?

and in retort we must ask does this question apply only to adults or does it cover those babes who died at childbirth, stillbirths and so on? What was the meaning of their brief existence? It really doesn’t matter whether a person existed or not. To each person and his immediate circle of influence, that life is important. He could be the sole breadwinner and if he was to become stiff, life would be meaningless for those who depended on him.

He continues to ask

Suppose the universe had never existed. What ultimate difference would it make?

to which I respond in two ways: one it wouldn’t matter and two we wouldn’t know. It is not a question that wouldn’t bother us in the least for we wouldn’t be there to ask it.

I want to know by a show of hands those here who wouldn’t go for holiday because it will at some point end? Are things only valuable/ meaningful when they are permanent? What is this obsession with permanency?

I feel insulted as a member of the human race when Craig writes

The contributions of the scientist to the advance of human knowledge, the researches of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world, the sacrifices of good men everywhere to better the lot of the human race–all these come to nothing.

how could this be when each of these actions made life livable for a time for our race? Why shouldn’t peace be good even if it is temporary? Isn’t it better to make sure there is food security to men where and when it really matters? In the afterlife that Craig thinks gives life meaning there will be no working. Let man work to provide for his means. No deity, no amount of prayers is going to do that.

Imagine a scenario where all your fucking life, all you have to do is worship some king. Imagine still there is no sleeping[ I haven’t heard of this about heaven] what meaning would such a life be? Has Craig really thought about what he will be doing for eternity with god? Or in the depths of his heart he will ask for a weekly tour of hell to see where those who didn’t make the cut get roasted? Man needs to live for now for his life to be worth living.

If there is no god, then it all depends on us and life then becomes precious for then it becomes clear that it is short-lived. It is the knowledge that life is short that makes believers hold to it even by whiskers. They would be dying in drones if they really believed they will live beyond this life.

I believe man’s first duty is to himself. I make no apologies that man is naturally self-centered. I further say that were it not for self-interest, nothing would be accomplished.

If there is a god, contrary to what Craig writes, there would be no way of discriminating between what is good or bad. Given Craig’s popular arguments, whatever god commands is right. God would, as most theists argue, be accountable to no one. All the commands would be arbitrary and to satisfy his whims. A morality based on god wouldn’t be workable. Our discussions on morality on make sense because we owe each other obligations. Were this not the case, the talk of good or bad would not even occur.

In any world, whether populated by a god or gods or not, morals would still be subjective. How would they  not be. In what sense would you be talking about morality. If one was to say a thing is good. Would the good be a property of the thing or a judgement about the thing?

Craig asks if there is no immortality, can there be ultimate purpose? The question to ask is who said there was an ultimate purpose in the first place? Apologists and men in general interest me. They think something, what Ubi called a mental image- then convince themselves that this is true of the universe. They are blind to the idea that all this is a mental exercise. They have no way of testing it against reality.

I think the words of this philosopher

“Human life is mounted upon a subhuman pedestal and must shift for itself alone in the heart of a silent and mindless universe.”

is closer to truth than all the yapping of Craig.

If god is dead, man’s life doesn’t become one of desperation. It becomes more valuable. There is no cosmic overlord waiting to punish you for infractions that itself couldn’t have stopped you from committing. Man becomes free to aspire to his highest potential. There is no longer a god waiting at the top of the Ziggurat to confuse man’s language. They sky becomes literally the limit. The grave is not a problem to the living nor to the dead for in the first scenario they are and death is not and in the second death is and they are not.

In the story of the madman that Nietzsche writes about, he is asking men to rewrite their values. Values that once depended on gods must now be rewritten for a new life. Man must create. It is not an invitation to despair but to creation to innovation.

Craig is not being truthful when he writes

Sartre argued that one may create meaning for his life by freely choosing to follow a certain course of action

but Sarte isn’t saying one has to create ultimate meaning. There is no absurdity in creating meaning in an absurd life. It is one of the responses to the question of suicide. Many people have killed themselves because their lives were no longer meaningful despite their still believing in god. No one is going to kill himself for the ontological argument but one will quit life the moment life becomes no longer meaningful.

Atheism makes no value judgement. It is a lack of belief in god[s]. Atheists are human beings and human beings make value judgments. There is no contradiction in a humanist making a value judgement. Why shouldn’t he? Why is he being denied the right other humans have? Why does Craig want to consider the atheist as less than human with fewer rights than the general population?

Craig brings up self-sacrifice and argues that it isn’t possible under atheism and I say it is not possible even under theism. He tells a moving story of a rescuer who loses his life helping others after a plane crash. He puts the question thus

But to die for others he did not even know, to give up all the brief existence he would ever have—what for?

and here is where you must forgive me for being a destroyer of illusions. First question we must ask is who was this man, what was his training? Once we answer that, we must remember that selfishness doesn’t mean we must live to enjoy the reward. The narrative of Jesus is a good example of this simple truism. He wouldn’t have died on the cross if he wasn’t going to heaven. Without heaven on the table, he wouldn’t have done it. This man who Craig is so moved by his story, had he lived, he would be the happiest man alive, a monument may have been erected to his name and a presidential medal of honour would be displayed somewhere in his house. Don’t tell me this isn’t a great benefit to him. If you say no, then am afraid you are not a student of man. You understand nothing about what drives him.

Craig finally lies that everyone creates purpose in life and to this he says means atheists are inconsistent. I have arrived at the conclusion that the likes of Craig have not thought well enough about what being alive is. There is no single thing called purpose. You don’t wake up just for a single thing. Life is rich in its many attractions and only a life devoid of these is meaningless and such people often kill themselves. When I read people like Craig, I get the impression that they think life should have a single purpose or it becomes meaningless.

Craig finishes his article by saying

what about biblical Christianity? According to the Christian world view, God does exist, and man’s life does not end at the grave. In the resurrection body man may enjoy eternal life and fellowship with God. Biblical Christianity therefore provides the two conditions necessary for a meaningful, valuable, and purposeful life for man: God and immortality. Because of this, we can live consistently and happily. Thus, biblical Christianity succeeds precisely where atheism breaks down.

and me wonders whether these are the only two possibilities in a world with different views towards death. Is Craig so blinded by his delusion to even consider Buddhism’s idea of Nirvana, a state of enlightenment where there is no rebirth or those cultures where there are no gods and immortality. It is unbecoming of a philosopher to be so shallow.

I am not questioning Adam’s atheism, but I think if Craig is his best philosopher and the reason behind his philosophy degree, he got a raw deal.

I know this post has been long, but I think Craig’s paper deserved a response.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

64 thoughts on “The absurdity of life without god

  1. john zande says:

    Great stuff.

    Two points. First, can you point me to where Camus verbalises that the body has a head start, and if it the other way, there would be more deaths from suicide than there are. I can seriously use that 🙂

    Second, Craig is a colossal dick. He writes: It means that life itself is absurd, but utterly fails to acknowledge that the entire concept of immortality is more absurd than the transiency of this life. Eternity is the worst possible thing imaginable. It would be torture, endless, and inescapable. Forever, you’d be contracted to live every single possibility down to the minutest detail (like a leaf falling that way, and not this way in the next life which would be identical in every respect except for the fall of leaf). Disingenuous does not even begin to describe WLC.

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    • makagutu says:

      He writes in The Myth of Sisyphus thus

      We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us toward death, the body maintains its irreparable lead. In short, the essence of that contradiction lies in what I shall call the act of eluding because it is both less and more than diversion in the Pascalian sense. Eluding is the invariable game. The typical act of eluding, the fatal evasion that constitutes the third theme of this essay, is hope. Hope of another life one must “deserve” or trickery of those who live not for life itself but for some great idea that will transcend it, refine it, give it a meaning, and betray it.

      I don’t like WLC. That Adam thinks he is the greatest leaves much to be desired about his choices

      Liked by 1 person

    • keithnoback says:

      Human lifetime/eternity = 0. Where is the meaning, except God’s extrinsic meaning, which we only label as such for lack of an appropriate concept and word? Is the result not more absurd than local and intrinsic meanings?
      People banking on an eternal afterlife often imagine a long, pleasant tea party. No one can imagine a tea party that long, nor, if they could, would they want it. It is annihilation more certain and thorough than mere death.
      This argues for preferability of a certain state of affairs, just as the original series of assertions, without making a case at all for whether or not a certain state of affairs exists. I guess we must wait for the tea party to hash out the more difficult questions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. archaeopteryx1 says:

    If God does not exist, then both man and the universe are inevitably doomed to death.

    That is correct, and Craig is right – one day, long after Humankind has long since ceased to exist, the Earth itself will have been cinderized by our expanding sun. We ARE all doomed to death and one day the stars will all wink out, one by one. But that won’t keep me in bed tomorrow morning, because as you have implied, we bring our own meaning to the four – or if we’re lucky – five generations of life we are born into, and if you’ve ever played poker, you know you have to play the hand you’re dealt.

    BTW, an analysis of Craig’s debates reveals how he consistently makes a good showing – he insists on going first, always, then he bogs his opponents down with responding to so many minute, trivial points, that they use up their time and never have the opportunity to advance to more serious topics. It’s a tactic of his, watch for it.

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    • makagutu says:

      They say that even a broken clock is right twice a day- especially it is analogue. So I expect Craig to get somethings right but his conclusions are off the mark. He wants us to believe that if god was then the earth wouldn’t be destined to death or it would be a different death maybe where the earth resurrects.

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  3. Nan says:

    This comment of yours stood out to me: “Many people have killed themselves because their lives were no longer meaningful despite their still believing in god.” (emphasis mine)

    It further illustrates, at least to me, that one does not need “God” to have meaning in their life.

    Great post, as usual. 😉

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      no, why do they who believe in god get bored? Their lives should not suffer such moments of existential angst.

      Like

      • Nan says:

        Exactly! If life with “God” is all that people like Craig say it is, then life should be, as they say, a bowl of cherries. But, as we know, it tends to have a lot of lemons thrown in.

        Re: heaven … as you pointed out … I really wonder how many Christians have actually considered what it will be like on a day-to-day basis. I know I didn’t. I was so wound up thinking about how wonderful it was going to be to spend eternity with Jesus, I never considered what that would be like realistically.

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        • makagutu says:

          I think that is what happens to many people. They are told heaven is beautiful and you will be with god end of story. The critical question is doing what for eternity?

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        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Twain once called it church that never ends.

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          • Nan says:

            Twain may have hit the nail on the head. Except what would the fire and brimstone preachers have to preach about? Hmmmm

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          • makagutu says:

            Arch, you know I can’t thank you enough for introducing me to Twain. That small book Letters from the Earth was such a great read

            Like

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            “The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession.”
            ~~ Mark Twain ~~

            Like

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            So when are you going to break down, you tightwad, and buy “The Hidden Face of God,” by Richard Elliot Friedman, that I’ve been railing at you to buy these past several months? What you’d learn about Nietzsche and Dostoevski would, alone, be worth the price of the book!

            Friedman gets a little religious at the end, but I suspect that’s because you can take the boy out of religion, but it’s a lot harder to take the religion out of the boy.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            It is going to be in my reading list for March. I will order at the end of this month

            Like

  4. Awesome post my brother. Craig is a meaningless, penis-deficient a-hole who literally sucks the life out of a room when he speaks. An eternity with pricks like this guy is enough to make me happy to know his concept of an after-life is pure fantasy and delusion. The thing you said here that stands out the most to me is this: “I respond in two ways: one it wouldn’t matter and two we wouldn’t know. It is not a question that wouldn’t bother us in the least for we wouldn’t be there to ask it.” It couldn’t matter if there was never a universe or an us because there’d be no “us” for it to matter to. I often wish the universe had never come into existence. Then I couldn’t be a part of it, and I’d never have to listen to f*ckin’ idiots like Craig explain to me that because I do not believe in their make believe god, my life has no meaning. F*ck you WLC! You’re an idiot.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      I know I don’t like Craig’s voice but I hate his reasoning.
      Craig thinks by asking what would it have been like if there was no us and the universe is asking a profound question. It isn’t.

      Like

  5. archaeopteryx1 says:

    I just ran across this:
    Carter’s Law of Prayer:
    As time goes on, a person learns to pray for only those things which will likely happen anyway.

    And this, from your good friend, Mark Twain:
    I generally don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell – you see, I have friends in both places.

    Like

  6. aguywithoutboxers says:

    Thanks, my friend for a very enlightening posting concerning life without god. In the discussion above, the author constantly argued the absurdity of a life free from the shackles of a deity. What was his proof?

    A deity doesn’t end or eliminate death. It only makes it palpable for those who claim belief in a particular deity.

    What sort of proof is that?

    Like

  7. “Are things only valuable/ meaningful when they are permanent? What is this obsession with permanency?

    Excellent post, Noel. My mind was all over the place while reading this, which is a good thing. 😉 Your cited comment reminded me of something Phil Hellenes said in his awesome video Dust That Sings:

    If someone saved you from drowning, effectively giving you life, would you thank them, or ask them to push you back into the sea because they couldn’t make you immortal as well?”

    Like

  8. After re-reading this fine post, my friend, I can’t help but think, what can be more absolutely absurd than than life with the christian god? Seriously. What? Absurdity abounds in christianity at every level. Who’d want an after-life of eternity drifting around in boring-ass clouds with stupid-ass wings licking the ass of Jesus for saving your soul for a life of servitude to his boring, masochistic self? Absurd is what all of christianity is. Add WLC, and you get absurd + stupid + really, really annoying.

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    • makagutu says:

      Absurd is what Christianity is and a guy like WLC makes his living from dissimulation. He has convinced a great number of apologists that he is rational and reasonable. They buy his bs hook line and sinker.

      Like

  9. Great post. WLC is annoying. His arguments are terrible. I’ve not seen many of his debates, but the ones I have seen involve derision of other views because they can’t explain the explanation. To boil down his views, saying “Because God” is better than saying “I don’t know.”

    I feel bad for this Adam person. He’s going to try to use WLC’s arguments somewhere, and he’ll find himself getting laughed at. The worst thing about it is that he won’t know why.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      SB, when I read Adam’s letter, I , too, felt bad for him. I imagine him sitting with his atheist friends telling them how Craig is a great philosopher and they will all be like you are joking man

      Liked by 1 person

  10. WLC made a career of reviving the KCA by removing the special pleading and then spending hours on stage doing the pleading outside of the argument. That he makes a living is a testament to the gullibility of humans.

    The ultimate meaning of life is that there is none. We are here for a time and then we are not. There is no more meaning than this. For those, like Craig, who cannot imagine a life without objective meaning there is no peace in life for there is nothing in living or the physical world which tells us there is something more. His arguments amount to nothing more than a child crying at bedtime because they are afraid of the dark. Yes, I think that analogy is accurate. Craig will always remain a crying child because his mind will allow him to never grow up and take responsibility for his life. He will forever blame things and put responsibility on imaginary beings rather than simply take responsibility for his life and how he interacts with others. Would he abandon his career if it could be shown that he has caused harm to some? Would he abandon his philosophy if it could be shown that his logic is flawed?

    If the answers are no you are certain to understand why that child will never turn off the light to get some rest. There is no peace, no tranquility for those that fear the dark.

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  11. Great post and discussion thread. Interestingly, this reminded me of a post I had written a while back, in which I had used a John Denver verse.

    The Coming of the Second Wave

    “So you speak to me of sadness and the coming of the winter,
    The fear that is within you now that seems to never end,
    and the dreams that have escaped you and the hope that you’ve forgotten,
    and you tell me that you need me now and you want to be my friend,
    and you wonder where we’re going, where’s the rhyme and where’s the reason?”

    John Denver, Rhymes and Reasons, 1969.

    Cheers

    Shakti

    Like

  12. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Just posted this on ColorStorm’s blog, but as he will never allow it to see the light of day, and since it fits the OP here, here’s Tim Minchin, explaining to you heathens why the Bible is all you need!

    Like

  13. Ron says:

    “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”~Ecclesiastes 1:2 (KJV)

    Who’s really the nihilist?

    Like

  14. Arkenaten says:

    I just don’t want to think about Craig. He makes my teeth hurt.
    The best debate was the one he had with Sam Harris and got slaughtered and he was too farking thick to realise.

    Like

  15. Yet you start with the Bible. It is in there. Job, as well: Job suffers, his children die, and God says, “I’m God! Who are you to question me?” Christianity makes far more sense to me without belief in an afterlife- Heaven, Hell, and even Purgatory are metaphors for life here.

    I came to tell you I had written three posts on the Karamazovs, as you showed interest.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Welcome Clare and thanks for the links.
      At the end of his essay, craig argues he has established that Christianity is sensible, that is why I started with the bible quote. Two that quote regardless of whether it came from the bible is at the centre of this topic.
      In that passage you quote from job you are arguing that tyranny is a good thing.
      Christianity in specific and all religion in general is a fraud and reserve for our early days of ignorance. To continue to believe the imaginings of people you have no reason to trust is to me childish.

      Like

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